By Daniel Hunter

A new business start up programme that will create 6,000 new businesses and up to 10,000 jobs across the country has been launched following a successful £15 million investment from the Regional Growth Fund.

The Ready for Business programme will be run by the National Enterprise Network (NEN) alongside six other enterprise support organisations and Barclays, who have invested a further £1 million.

The national programme will specifically target the transfer of public sector employment to the private sector. It will offer a package of support to help the transition from employment to business start up, including one to one advice, mentoring, access to finance support and business planning.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, and we want to encourage more people to discover their entrepreneurial spirit and start a business," Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk, said.

"I’m pleased the Ready for Business programme, which includes partners such as Barclays and the National Enterprise Network, will join many other schemes benefitting from support from the Regional Growth Fund to help small companies realise their potential.

“It’s important we make available to businesses the tools they need to succeed. Whether this is details about finance opportunities, or partnering them with a mentor who can share first hand experiences, we can help them to thrive and grow with the type of targeted support Ready for Business can offer.”

The programme will begin with an introductory free Barclays Get Ready for Business seminar, followed by an in depth assessment process, one to one advice, guidance and ongoing mentoring. The programme will also include a business planning phase, access to finance support and early stage growth aspiration building.

Alongside National Enterprise Network, the consortium includes six enterprise agencies from across the country — BBV in the North West, Business West in the South West, Enterprise First in the South East, NBV in the East Midlands, NWES in the East and TEDCO in the North East. The programme will be delivered by the Cavendish Consortium and its partners, in association with Barclays.

“The enterprise support organisations and partners involved in the delivery of the new Ready for Business programme have vast experience and success in supporting pre start ups with business advisory and training services - in many cases built up over 30 years," Kevin Horne, Chairman of The Cavendish Consortium and CEO of enterprise agency NWES said.

"It is fantastic that we will now be able to increase our reach through this new RGF funded programme, using our proven expertise to offer a unique and dedicated support package to a large number of future start-ups.

“With the commitment made to this programme, Government has demonstrated the value it places on start-up businesses and the role they play in business growth. We are incredibly proud to have been successful in our bid to support additional start-ups through the development of this new programme.”

Steve Cooper, Vice Chairman, Business Banking, Barclays said:

“This is a key initiative that will deliver real benefits to business. The programme of seminars will focus on some of the most pressing issues facing start-ups during their difficult initial period — from how to get started and create a viable business plan through to getting the business in good shape for finance. The new businesses and jobs that will be created through this initiative will be a welcome boost to the UK economy.”

Ready for Business is now running events across the country. Interested parties can visit www.startupedge.co.uk for further information on the programme and to find out how to apply.

This year the Government and public sector are running the Business in You campaign to encourage more people to start or grow their business throughout 2012 using a range of existing support services. More information is available at businessinyou.bis.gov.uk.

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